Meet FreshBooks customer and creative workspace owner, Bryan Ledbetter (above), Director of Everything at Airtype Studio. A rock star turned brand and interactive expert, Bryan has a unique and quirky story about how he got his start as an entrepreneur. Read his tale and see the process of how he created an incredible workspace for his team by restoring a gorgeous historic building in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
So, what is that you do at Airtype Studio, exactly?
We provide strategy, branding, design and interactive solutions over a wide range of industries. We also just launched three apparel lines. We swim in pulp and pixels. My title is Director of Everything. At one time or another I’ve managed every aspect of the business as a designer, developer, janitor, bookkeeper, human resources and manager.
What sparked the idea to start your company?
Airtype wasn’t planned. I have always loved art but never saw it as a core source of income. I was focused on chasing rock star dreams, touring with a band and competing in Flatland BMX. But as our band got more exposure, so did the artwork I was doing for us. Next thing I knew I was being hired to do produce merchandise, photo shoots, album covers and websites for some big bands and major labels.
Do you remember the day Airtype made the leap from an idea to a full-fledged business?
In 2006, with 600 bucks to my name, I registered Airtype, did a six-month bill-me-later for an iMac and converted our playroom into a makeshift office. The rest is history.
How did the inspiration come about for your creative office space?
It was insanity, but I was determined to create a rad place for our team and clients. I didn’t want to go into debt, so to afford this restoration we’d have to do the work. Prior to this endeavor I’d never even turned on a power tool. However, my father-in-law (Mic) is a very skilled craftsmen. He accepted the challenge and we knocked it out over a six-month period. I would work at Airtype during the day, then head to the building and we’d work all night. There was no work-life balance back then. But once that first wall came down, there was no turning-back. (Shout out to my wife Ginine, Mic, Matt Taylor, JM Taylor, Bridget and Dave Goulet for all their hard work in making my vision become a reality. The space was even nominated for a Historic Heritage Award).
As far as business advice, be true to yourself and stick to your ideals. Taking the road less travelled is more difficult, but also much more rewarding. Stability, relationships and foundations don’t happen overnight. Dream big, but build slow. Don’t make decisions solely based on money and surround yourself with people who are better than you. The way I look at it I’ve yet to succeed, I just keep failing better.
Finish this sentence: “20 years from now….”
I’m a worst-case scenario type of thinker, so I would embrace the day where I’m not worrying about Airtype’s financial stability and sweating the small details. Twenty years from now I’d love to walk into the office and see the same faces, as well as my kids, be part of the Airtype family.
All photos courtesy of Bryan.